Cakes & Bakes: Red Leicester cheese scones

Buttered, home-made red Leicester cheese scones | H is for Home #recipe #scones

We watched Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain’s new BBC cooking series this week. She made Eton mess cheesecake, smoked haddock welsh rarebit and red Leicester cheese scones. It all looked amazing but as we’re afternoon scone lovers, that was the one I wanted to recreate the most.

Flour and grated red Leicester mixture | H is for Home

Nadiya gave viewers a really useful scone-making hint that I’d never heard before. She advised when cutting out the rounds, don’t twist the cutter as this makes the scones lean when rising during baking. One to remember!

Cutting red Licester cheese scones from dough | H is for Home

The other revelation was using onion salt in the recipe. We have some pots of wonderful Cornish Sea Salt, one of which is onion flavoured. I find ‘regular’ onion salt tastes a bit strong, but this one is more subtle – so I added double the ¼tsp measure she sets out. It worked perfectly.

Brushing the tops of red Leicester scones with milk before they go into the oven | H is for Home

The entire process took half an hour from start to delicious end. Nadiya served up hers with her own home-made chive butter; however, plain old salted works a treat too. I reckon red Leicester cheese scones would be successful as part of an alternative ploughman’s lunch – served with cold meats, boiled eggs, salad and pickled onions & red cabbage. Great for picnics, drinks parties or afternoon teas too..

Cooked red Leicester cheese scones cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

Click here to save the recipe to Pinterest.

Red Leicester cheese scones
Yields 9
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 175g/6oz self-raising flour
  2. 50g/1¾oz strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  3. ¼ tsp onion salt
  4. 55g/2oz unsalted butter, room temperature
  5. 25g/1oz red Leicester, grated
  6. 150ml/5fl oz whole milk, plus 1tbsp extra for glazingHome-made red Leicester cheese scones ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas mark 7
  2. Grease or line a baking tray with baking paper
  3. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the flours, onion salt and butter into a bowl and rub together using your fingertips until you get a fine breadcrumb consistency
  4. Mix in the cheese
  5. Make a well in the centre and add the milk
  6. Bring the dough together with your hands, being careful not to knead or the dough will become tough
  7. Dust the work surface with flour and press the dough out to the thickness of about 2cm/1in
  8. Cut out the scones using a 5cm/2in circular cutter and place onto the prepared tray
  9. Bring the offcuts together gently, again being careful not to knead and cut out as many circles as possible until there's no dough remaining
  10. Brush the tops with milk and bake for 12-15 minutes until the tops are golden and well risen
  11. Allow to cool for a few minutes on a wire rack
  12. Serve warm with butter
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Adapted from Nadiya's British Food Adventure
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Rhubarb upside-down cake

Slice of home-made rhubarb upside-down cake with cream | H is for Home

We planted a rhubarb crown in a dolly tub in our garden about 3 years ago. Gardening/allotment experts say you should allow a young plant at least a year without harvesting to encourage vigour. We’ve finally felt able to pick a few stalks this year.

Rhubarb plant in a vintage dolly tub in our garden | H is for Home

I’d normally use it to make a crumble however, I’ve never made a rhubarb upside-down cake before and thought it would go down a treat.

Soft brown sugar and butter in a cast iron skillet | H is for Home

I tweaked a recipe I found on the Guardian website. The results were so delicious, I’m already planning on reusing the recipe to make a pear upside-down cake next week.

Sliced rhubarb in a cast iron skillet | H is for Home

I love the pretty patterns that you can make with fruit on the ‘top’ of upside-down cakes.

cake batter ingredients | H is for Home

The cake batter is one of the easiest I’ve ever thrown together. It calls for vegetable oil instead of butter, a couple of eggs, caster sugar, flour and baking powder – just mix the wet into the dry ingredients. It takes all of about 3 minutes!

Cooked rhubarb upside-down cake still in the skillet | H is for Home

The soft brown sugar and butter in the base of the skillet came together to form the most wonderful, chewy caramelised edges.

Home-made rhubarb upside-down cake | H is for Home

It was lovely with a little pouring cream but it would be equally good – hot or room temperature – with vanilla ice cream or on its own.

Save the recipe to Pinterest here!

Rhubarb upside-down cake
Serves 8
Ingredients
  1. 80g/3oz diced unsalted butter and a bit more for greasing
  2. 140g/5oz soft brown sugar
  3. 4-5 stalks rhubarb
  4. 150g/5¼oz caster sugar
  5. 175g/6oz plain flour
  6. 1 heaped tsp baking powder
  7. 150ml/5 fl oz sunflower oil
  8. 2 large eggsHome-made rhubarb upside-down-cake ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4
  2. Grease a 30cm/12-inch cast iron skillet with a little butter
  3. Scatter the brown sugar and butter over the bottom of the skillet and put it in the oven for 5 minutes
  4. Remove the skillet from the oven and press the raw rhubarb into the melted butter and sugar
  5. Mix the sugar, flour and baking powder in a large bowl
  6. In a measuring jug, beat the vegetable oil and eggs together
  7. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix well
  8. Pour the batter over the rhubarb in the skillet and return the pan to the oven for about 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes away clean
  9. Allow the cake to cool in the skillet on the top of the stove before running a sharp knife around the rim and carefully turning the pan upside down on to a plate
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Adapted from The Guardian
Adapted from The Guardian
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/
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Cakes & Bakes: Pretzel loaf

Sliced home-made pretzel loaf | H is for Home

This pretzel loaf has been on my ‘to bake’ list for weeks. I’ve been putting it off because we’ve been having a very busy June. Instead, I’ve made a couple of recipes that were quick & easy to pull together, bake and photograph.

Sugar and bicarbonate of soda for adding to water to boil pretzel loaf | H is for Home

I needn’t have delayed, making a pretzel loaf isn’t as long, drawn out or difficult as I’d imagined. I think it was the boiling process that put me off attempting it for so long.

Pretzel bread dough formed into a ball | H is for Home

Yes, it did seem a bit strange par-boiling a ball of dough; but the technique produced a beautifully browned and deliciously chewy crust. It was a bit fiddly, make sure you use a large enough saucepan with enough boiling water. I had a pair of stainless steel skimmers which were perfect for the job of flipping the loaf over in the pan.

Home-made pretzel loaf | H is for Home

My decision to experiment with smoked salt flakes instead of traditional pretzel salt was a success – it gave it a very subtle flavour which didn’t overpower in the least.

Click here to pin the recipe for future reference!

Pretzel loaf
Yields 1
Ingredients
  1. 500g/17 oz strong bread flour
  2. 1tbsp sugar
  3. 2tsp instant yeast
  4. 1¼tsp salt
  5. 250ml/ 9fl oz full-fat milk
  6. 125ml/ 4½fl oz warm water (blood temperature)
For boiling
  1. 2L water
  2. 3tbsp brown sugar
  3. 2tbsp bicarbonate of soda
For the topping
  1. water in a spray bottle
  2. pretzel salt (I used smoked sea salt flakes)Home-made pretzel loaf ingredients
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Instructions
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast
  2. Mix for a couple of seconds on low to combine the dry ingredients
  3. With the mixer on low, carefully pour in the milk and water. Continue mixing on low until you have a smooth, soft, slightly tacky dough
  4. Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover with cling film or put it inside a large, clear plastic bag and set aside somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size (about an hour)
  5. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400°F/Gas mark
  6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface
  8. Lift the dough, gently pull the edge of the dough down and tuck under. Turn the dough a ¼ turn and repeat. Do this until you've formed a cohesive round. Place the round on the clean surface and use your hands to gently turn and tighten the dough down over the surface
  9. Place on the prepared baking sheet, cover with a clean tea towel or length of oiled cling film and allow to rise while the oven preheats
  10. Bring 2 litres of water to a boil in a large stainless steel or other non-reactive pan (enamelled cast-iron, tempered glass etc.)
  11. When the water comes to a boil, add the brown sugar and bicarbonate of soda
  12. Gently lift the loaf and carefully ease the dough - top side down first - into the boiling water
  13. Simmer for about 3 minutes, flip the dough over using two spatulas or slotted spoons and simmer on that side for another 2 minutes
  14. Use the two spatulas or slotted spoons to carefully lift the dough out of the water and transfer back over to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  15. Spritz the loaf with water and sprinkle with the coarse salt
  16. Using a lamé or a sharp knife, slice along the contours of the bread about ½cm/¼-inch thick.
  17. Bake for 35 minutes or until deep brown
  18. Transfer the loaf to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before slicing
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Adapted from Foodie with Family
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Fruit and nut flapjack

Slice of home-made fruit and nut flapjack | H is for Home

I made one of my regular batches of fruit and nut flapjack this week. Not only is it the perfect accompaniment to a mug of tea, it also has some distinct health benefits.

Justin and I were both born in the 1960s, which means we’re getting on a bit! It’s perhaps time to start considering our health and brain function into old age.

It seems like diet could be a very important factor. Oily fish is often cited as great ‘brain food’, but nuts are also a fantastic source of cerebral nourishment.

Here’s a selection of commonly found (and tasty!) nuts and some of their recognised health benefits.

Chopped mixed nuts | H is for Home

  • Almonds are very high in vitamin E (good for glowing skin). They’re also a good source of omega-6 and 9 (poly)unsaturated fatty acids
  • Un-roasted walnuts contain twice as many antioxidants as other nuts or seeds
  • Brazil nuts are perhaps the richest dietary source of selenium (a mineral important for cognitive function and a maintaining a healthy immune system). Eating just 2 give you 100% of the recommended daily allowance
  • Cashew nuts contain a high concentration of essential minerals including magnesium (thought to counter age-related memory loss), phosphorus and zinc
  • Macadamia nuts are an excellent source of manganese and thiamine (vitamin B1)
  • Flaxseeds have one of the highest concentrations of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (Useful in maintaining healthy brain and visual functions). Especially important if you’re vegetarian or vegan as it is most commonly found in oily fish
  • Whole sesame seeds are a very good source of iron (again, important for vegetarians and vegans)

Home-made fruit and nut flapjack before going into the oven | H is for Home

This flapjack is quick and easy to make – and is so delicious, that the health benefits are an additional bonus… and we didn’t even get started on the goodness of dried fruit!

Home-made fruit and nut flapjack cooling on a wire rack | H is for Home

Click here to pin our recipe for future reference!

Fruit and nut flapjack
Yields 9
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 200g butter
  2. 125g honey
  3. 350g rolled oats
  4. 50g dried fruit (currants, raisins, sultanas, cranberries, blueberries, dates, figs, apricots or a mix of any/all of these)
  5. 50g seeds and/or nuts, roughly chopped (linseeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, macadamias, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds or a mix of any/all of these)Earl Grey tea and lemon cake ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2
  2. Put the butter into a large saucepan on a low heat. When the butter has melted, add the honey and stir to combine
  3. Turn off the heat, add the oats, dried fruit and nuts/seeds and mix well
  4. Put the mixture into a 23cm/9-inch shallow square cake tin and flatten down firmly with the back of a serving spoon
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is lightly browned
  6. Allow to cool in the tin before cutting into squares or finger-shaped portions
Notes
  1. You can store the flapjacks for up to 3 days in an airtight greaseproof paper-lined tin or plastic container
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Earl Grey tea and lemon cake

Slices of Earl Grey tea and lemon cake with cups of tea | H is for Home

Never have I baked a cake that is more perfect for tea-time! As its name suggests, this Earl Grey tea and lemon cake is infused with oil of bergamot and drizzled with a lemon icing.

Earl Grey tea steeped in a saucepan hot milk | H is for Home

You begin by steeping Earl Grey tea in hot milk. We used a lovely loose leaf tea from Fortnum & Mason however Earl Grey teabags will suffice.

Mixing Earl Grey tea and lemon cake ingredients | H is for Home

The recipe I used was by ex-Bake Off contestant, Urvashi Roe and it was originally for mini loaf cakes. I don’t have any mini loaf tins (yet!), so I used a single 500g/1lb loaf tin and upped the cook time to an hour.

Earl Grey tea and lemon cake batter in a loaf tin | H is for Home Baked Earl Grey tea and lemon cake | H is for Home

I know that ‘lemony’ cakes often top the charts when it comes to people’s favourites (Justin included), but personally I’m not the biggest fan of lemon flavour – however, a little drizzle of the icing I could handle! I suppose I could supplement the lemon juice and zest with a little of my home-made elderflower cordial.

Slice of lemon, juicer, zester and icing sugar | H is for Home

Teaming this cake with a cup of Earl Grey or full-bodied Darjeeling or Assam is tea-time heaven!

Drizzling lemon icing over Earl Grey tea cake | H is for Home

Click here to pin this recipe for later!

Earl Grey tea and lemon cake
Serves 8
For the cake
  1. 125ml/4½fl oz milk
  2. 4 tsp loose Earl Grey tea (or 4 tea bags)
  3. 115g/4oz butter, softened
  4. 225g/8oz caster sugar
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 125g/4½oz self-raising flour
  7. 125g/4½oz plain flour
For the icing
  1. ½ lemon, juice & zest
  2. 200g/7oz icing sugar
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For the cake
  1. Place the milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and immerse the Earl Grey tea in the hot milk. Cover the pan and set aside for 40 minutes to allow the tea to steep
  2. Strain the liquid from the leaves (or squeeze the liquid out of the teabags) and set the liquid aside to cool some more
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/355ºF/Gas mark 4. Grease and line a 500g/1lb loaf tin with baking parchment
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar using an electric whisk or free standing mixer with a paddle attachment. It takes a while - about 10 minutes and you'll need to scrape down the sides of the bowl from time to time
  5. Once the mixture is light & fluffy, add the eggs one by one and mix well. Add half the flour and half of the tea-infused milk and mix until combined. Add the rest of the flour and milk and mix until there are no traces of flour in the bowl
  6. Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin
  7. Bake for 50-60 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
  8. Allow to cool in its tin on a wire rack
For the icing
  1. Mix the lemon juice, zest and icing sugar together into a smooth paste. It should be quite gloopy so it doesn't dribble too much down the sides (though a little dribble is okay)
  2. Pour over the loaf and leave the icing to set for about 30 minutes
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Adapted from Great British Chefs
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Halloumi herb bread

Home-made halloumi herb bread | H is for Home

We’re making an unusual real bread recipe this time, for our weekly Cakes & Bakes feature; Halloumi herb bread.

Cubed halloumi and extra virgin olive oil | H is for Home Halloumi mixed with chopped basil and extra virgin olive oil | H is for Home

Classic Halloumi is made with mint, and the original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh mint leaves and 4 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley leaves. I bought a pack of Halloumi from Lidl which was made with basil, so I tweaked the recipe accordingly.

Rolling the halloumi herb bread dough | H is for Home

Bakery Bits baked their Halloumi herb bread in a Pullman loaf pan, a bit of kit which I don’t own, so I just used a common or garden loaf tin.

Rolled Halloumi herb loaf proving in its tin | H is for Home

A delicious, hearty, intense flavoured loaf was the result. A suitable accompaniment for an endless number of dishes… meat, fish or vegetable based – rice, pasta, couscous or salad.

Baked Halloumi herb bread loaf on bread board | H is for Home

I had it again the following day, toasted on both sides under the grill – very satisfactory leftovers.

Click here to save the recipe for later!

Halloumi herb bread
Yields 1
Cook Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 5g/0.2oz dry yeast
  2. 175ml/6 fl oz warm water
  3. ¼tsp caster sugar
  4. 250g/9oz strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  5. 25g/1oz strong wholemeal bread flour
  6. 4g/0.15oz salt
  7. 250g/9oz Halloumi cheese, cut into 1cm chunks
  8. 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  9. 2 tbs finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  10. 3 spring onions, peeled and sliced fairly finely
  11. pinch of sea salt
  12. pinch of freshly ground black pepperHalloumi herb bread ingredients
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Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, mix the yeast with 15ml/½ fl oz of the water at 30°C/86ºF and the caster sugar
  2. Allow to stand for about 15 minutes, until it has developed a slight froth on the surface
  3. Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine
  4. Add the yeast mixture and the rest of the water and use your hand or a dough whisk to mix everything together until there's no dry flour left and you have a shaggy dough
  5. Tip the dough out onto the work surface and knead for 10 minutes. By this stage the dough should be smooth and elastic
  6. Form the dough into a ball and place it back in the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp cloth and leave at room temperature for 1-1½ hours
  7. While the dough is rising, put the Halloumi into a medium bowl with the olive oil, basil leaves and spring onions
  8. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir, then cover and leave for at least 30 minutes
  9. Prepare a 500g/1lb loaf tin by lightly greasing the sides and base with butter and dusting lightly with flour
  10. When the dough has almost doubled in size, gently tip it onto the work surface and press it out to form a rectangle three times the length and slightly wider than your loaf tin
  11. Spread the Halloumi and herb mixture evenly over the top of the dough
  12. Working from one of the long sides, roll the dough up like a Swiss roll. Press gently on the seam with your fingers to seal
  13. Place the roll of dough in the prepared loaf tin, cover and leave to prove for about 30 minutes
  14. Preheat the oven to 190°C /375°F /Gas mark 5
  15. Bake for 1 hour or until the top of the loaf develops a golden brown crust and the base makes a hollow sound when tapped
  16. Remove the loaf from the tin and place on a cooling rack
Notes
  1. Serve with tomato salad
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Adapted from Bakery Bits
Adapted from Bakery Bits
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/